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Date: Tue, 7 Oct 2014 14:43:43 +0400
From: Solar Designer <>
Subject: Re: Shellshocker - Repository of "Shellshock" Proof of Concept Code

On Tue, Oct 07, 2014 at 09:05:40AM +0000, mancha wrote:
> it would help if you'd clarify your position more explicitely.

I recognize that embargoes are not necessarily beneficial overall and
they have clear drawbacks and may be unfair to some (hence my easy
adoption of the opponents' term "selective disclosure" despite of its
negative connotation), yet I think that sometimes they are in fact
beneficial overall, and I have little or no control over whether they
are imposed by the reporter of an issue.

For now, I intend to continue hosting the distros list as a tool to
facilitate safer handling and discussion of embargoed issues between
representatives of the (selected) distros.

I suggest and ask that existing members of the distros list try to
volunteer extra time to review proposed patches and the software being
patched for possible related flaws.  I doubt that this suggestion and
request will change things much, but it "costs" nothing in terms of
extra risks or slippery slopes (which would be a concern if we start
adding non-distro security researchers to the list), so we have nothing
to lose by asking.

In case of Shellshock, there wasn't a clear enough opportunity for
distros list members to change how the vulnerability would be fixed
pre-disclosure, but I mean the above in general.

A related aspect is that the distros list is currently specified as
being intended for medium overall severity issues.  The rationale behind
this is that low severity issues don't need embargoes, and high severity
issues are worthy of special handling where they are to be disclosed to
affected distros only rather than to all at once.  I think it's the
latter aspect which correctly prompted Florian to post just a heads-up
to the distros list, requiring that affected distros who actually intend
to work on the issue within the allotted 2 days actively request the
information.  Unfortunately, this approach, while safer against leaks,
precludes pre-disclosure reviews by distros who do not feel they require
to patch the issue for themselves before it becomes public.  Maybe this
implies that those distros' representatives would not care to review the
patch anyway, or maybe not.  Possibly more importantly, it precludes
discussion of high severity issues between distros on the distros list,
if those issues were (correctly) only announced in the form of heads-up
messages requiring direct contact for detail.  I think an exception
needs to be made to encourage discussion of high severity issues taking
advantage of the distros list PGP-re-encryption when that is expected
to be beneficial, although unfortunately that is hard to know in advance.


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